Hartford’s “First Lady” and the First Lady of the World

In many articles I’ve read about Beatrice Fox Auerbach, she has been nicknamed Hartford’s “First Lady,” probably because of her positive impact on its community. For similar reasons, Eleanor Roosevelt has been dubbed the “First Lady of the World.” And between 1946 and 1962 these two “First Ladies” corresponded with one another.

Their early correspondence is quite formal, as one would expect from people who are not well-acquainted with one another. Initially, they write to each other almost exclusively about establishing meeting times. These meetings all seem to center around the recently formed Service Bureau for Woman’s Organizations. (It was renamed in 1970 to the Service Bureau for Connecticut Organizations). In April 1946, Mrs. Roosevelt was a speaker at one of the Service Bureau’s first sponsored events and the correspondence between her and Mrs. Auerbach begins shortly after this event.

It is clear, after reading their correspondence, that the two women developed a genuine affection for one another as their involvement with the Service Bureau and other humanitarian causes continued to bring them into contact. While never completely losing an element of formality, the letters do become increasingly warm, friendly and somewhat more intimate.

These letters are extremely delightful in tone and content. The correspondence is especially noteworthy because it reveals a different side of Mrs. Auerbach that does not appear elsewhere in the collection.

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